Defy Aging With A New Challenge – A Dozen Ideas to Get You Started


In Younger Next Year, Chris Cowley and Henry Lodge suggest readers choose a big goal. Not the small reasonable steps to change but a Big Hairy Goal (BHG) that truly gets you excited. In writing this blog today I hope I’ve made a BHG attainable for anyone. We’ve (collectively, as we’re in this together) got jobs, kids, horses, and maybe conditions or knees or discs that keep us from doing something but none of those will keep you from doing everything on this list.

When I began planning the podcast that I recorded a couple weeks ago I actually got excited and inspired myself while I was writing. I thought I want to do that, and that, and oh, that would be awesome to do that. So the list kept growing. It got both realistic and inspiring at the same time. I realized, that yes, the two could co-exist.

I love a challenge. I suppose it’s because I love school structure, though, like most, I complained about it. The start and stop, measured progress, and deadlines to get stuff done all work for me. I do it for myself now and I coach others to do it too.

SO this is it a way to challenge the age of decline and tackle some of those bucket list items that you might think have passed you by. I’m one woman here writing for many. So I’m counting on you to make this list yours. Maybe your knees aren’t going to allow you to run or walk but miles might be logged on an elliptical instead. Maybe you will take the challenge one step further and involve others or one step to the right and add a twist.

Whatever you do with this list of inspiration I’d like you to do this: comment on the bottom. Do you get excited by any of these? Do you find yes, you want to do? If so, tell me what? How are you spinning it into yours?

Challenging the Age of decline with bucket list items even if modified to suit your life today.

Physical fitness gives you an edge in completing these ..and well be a goal of the exercise …but it’s always mental attitude that helps you finish. Ask any marathon or Ironman finisher. As a Ragbrai participant… between the biking days on end for 60-100 miles seven days straight usually through heat, humidity and rain…while camping or just staying at a stranger’s home along the way…

But  I digress right… we’re going to do this pseudo. But…it’s OK to imagine yourself out there running along the ocean or traveling across a green lush state even if you’re logging miles on a stationary bike.


What is on that bucket list of yours? Train to do a marathon(26.2 miles)… or a 2 mile open water swim… but you right now might find that daunting or the time constraint limiting. Change your approach.

1. Swim the English Channel  Dover to Calais 21 miles. Set a time table whether it’s 21 days of a mile each or it’s 11 days of more.

2. Run a marathon (complete) 26.2 mile. Set a time table for that. I have a client doing a marathon this week as I write. She’s averaged the mileage to 3.75 mi a day. Some days she does less and some more. Yet, it’s changed her routine and inspired a must do instead of optional to skip today attitude.

3. Hike the Appalachian Trail  2190 mi. It takes most 6 complete the actual trail. If you have a long attention span this could be good. You can do this all on foot, you can do it on foot, ride, elliptical, swim some. It doesn’t really have to be realistic (there is not a lap lane at the Appalachian Trail) but it does need to inspire you to do. Set a goal for each week and determine how you can best do that!

4. Do the Camino in Spain? Another big goal similar to the A.T. above. Learn a new language. Listen to a tape while you walk and make the goal have dual meaning.

5. Have you wondered what it’s like to bike a Century ride? You’re the race director Your 100 miles can come all in one day or can be done in the course of a week or month.

6. Choose a point-to-point run, walk or ride. Bike 469 miles across Iowa – in 7 days…an average of 67 miles a day. That’s the equivalent of RAGBRAI, the annual weeklong event that happens in July. Choose your home state instead. Get the total mileage and determine your route either by average or by really mapping it out town to town.

7. Do you want to learn more about the country? What if you created your own Bike Across America over this next year. I have to admit, these long-term goals need a little breakdown in order to keep you motivated.

Part of the fun and of the defying aging is to complete this puzzle of how you’ll train, when you’ll train, where, what you’ll need. Plan your mileage and your daily schedule.

8. Instead of a distance challenge consider learning challenges. Make it a point to learn to kayak, surf, stand up paddle board, or climb – even if at a climbing wall. Perhaps over the winter you learn about hiking, climbing or rafting and then you actually do next year?

9. Golf a new course each week. Take a vacation from your over-scheduled, over-planned life and pick out a few spots or courses to try but then get in the car and drive. Clubs, a variety of outdoor wear, and randomly stop if you see a beautiful course.

10. Consider a month full of weekly challenges. Say week one you do a marathon. Week two, three and four you swim the English Channel. Maybe you focus on one big challenge over a month and package it uniquely. A Month of Sundays is the title of a challenge I did several years ago with yoga for 30 days. I enlisted a variety of instructors to cover all 30 days between us. You could use dvds, attend live classes, practice on your own, or do a combination.

11. Another way to add a challenge is to do a “triple” yoga over each weekend during a month (or one). Practice in the morning, evening, and again in the morning the following day.

12. Focus on cooking as your challenge. Learn to make a vegan or vegetarian dish every day for a month. Focus on soups. Every week, if every day is daunting, create a new soup recipe.


The possibilities are endless. That’s why you need this step-by-step or you’ll easily sit in the middle of the room thinking about them instead of doing!

Here’s where to start:

1. Choose a focus– is this physical exercise or something else? Is it something you enjoy doing and need a kick or something you want to learn or do better?

2. Decide on the length of time a week…. Or a month… a weekend each month is this something you want to do daily?

3. Do you want an experience or do you want to learn/get better? How might you measure?

Distance, number of new soups, days logged on calendar

4. Will you share this? Are you going to journal or blog, photograph or otherwise document? It that for you or for others?

Share your comments and your adventure. Have you done something similar? Want a team of challengers to support you?


P.S. Share with me what you’ll do! We’d love to hear what area intrigues you. “Fitness” keep in mind has many facets. Include your mind, body and your soul in the challenge. The balance between a physically challenged body and one that is also mentally and emotionally well is true fitness.

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